Engen and Work4You assist disabled youth

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(left to right) Melanie Holland, Engen CSI co-ordinator; Vuyo Mdokwe, Lynnette D’ Alton, Bongi Vilakazi and Tristan Zass from Work4You; and Andrew Bryce, Engen general manager of financial services attend the Work4You 10th Anniversary dinner on 22 October 2016. (Image: Supplied)

Work4You, an NPO dedicated to the development, training and support of young adults living with intellectual disabilities, has benefited greatly from the generosity of various donors and sponsors.

Chief among these donors is South African oil and gas company Engen. The company tries to reach a diverse group of young people through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.

Engen has, since the beginning of their partnership with Work4You in 2006, helped the NPO maximise the impact they have made in the lives of 80 young adults who have benefited from their work.

Work4You trains and places young people in Wagalots, a dog treats product line created to provide job opportunities for the young adults.

“Our innovative approach at Work4You is to use our Wagalots dog treats product line as the platform and basis for training and developing the work skills of young people with intellectual disabilities, along with their social adaptation and life skills,” explains Lynnette D’Alton, the operations manager at Work4You.

“Once the youngsters have completed their training, they are placed in relevant positions at organisations so that they can gain valuable work experience.”

D’Alton, who has been with Work4You since 2011, says this process of practical training helps prepare the youth for full-time employment.

And thanks to the support of Engen, who contributed eight bursaries in 2016, three young adults are currently employed.

Three more are likely to be employed by the end of the year, with the last two Engen bursary recipients currently on job trials.

D’Alton explains how the money generated by Wagalots along with sponsorships and parents fees goes to covering the costs of training. “As a result, many young people in poorer areas could not attend the courses, due to lack of funding.

“Along with Engen, we identified eight potential candidates whose costs Engen agreed to pay via bursaries for 2016.”

“Due to the fact that disability affects a comparatively small percentage of the population, it remains traditionally underfunded,” says Engen CSI manager, Mntu Nduvane, explaining the company’s decision to play a part in helping young adults living with intellectual disabilities.

“At Engen, we are mindful that this is a key area of need and we have moved to assist people living with disabilities and their families,” Nduvane says.

In 2017 Engen looks to take some of the young adults on board to gain even more work experience. The oil company also intends to provide funding for more bursaries in the coming year.

Tasneem Sulaiman-Bray, Engen’s general manager of corporate affairs, says the company is pleased to play a role in helping people with disabilities.

“By working together with Work4You we hope to forge a future that is inclusive of all people; where the marginalised have the opportunity to work, and where conditions are created for dreams to be achieved and a brighter future for all South Africans to be manifested,” says Sulaiman-Bray.